How do you know when your writing is good, original, sassy, deep, touching, interesting, wonderful, funny, ground-breaking, acceptable, insightful, rigorous?

First, commenter’s, I pose a challenges to you:

In your response do not use the words: audience, author, depends, or subjective

One thing I’ve been wondering about lately in conjunction to life and to writing is, how do you know when you think you know? In decision-making , what evidence and reasons do you turn to in order to make your conclusions?  How do you know those reasons are sound ones to go by? What leads you to collect certain reasons over others?

To provide an example, if I’m deciding between two comparable grad schools, when I’ve made my decision to go to school one, what sort of things tell me that I’ve made the right choice, other than living out the outcomes?

Similarly to writing, how do you know when your writing is _________(riveting, earth-shattering, great)? Do we as writers have well toned guts from years of writing, reading, and education? Is our sense enough? Is the fact that it pleases you fulfill the requirements of ________? I wonder to myself if I rely on my own tastes too much, and my unwillingness to show other people most things I’ve written also makes me echo this question.

What if it’s like that moment in 7th when that someone you know in your heart of hearts is an awful profoundly terrible singer, but after the talent show, everyone goes up to her and is like, ohhhh my gaaaawd, you are such a GOOD singer! You need to join choir. And inside you’re burning inside with angst at the insult to truth that is occurring right in front of you. But what makes you more right than her friends?

How do you know when you know?


3 thoughts to “How do you know when your writing is good, original, sassy, deep, touching, interesting, wonderful, funny, ground-breaking, acceptable, insightful, rigorous?”

  1. Replying to this blog, without using that “s” word is going to be somewhat difficult. I can only answer some of your questions with ideas that I have, and may not at all apply to what others are ever thinking.

    When I go back and objectively, and therefore hopefully honestly, evaluate my writing there is one thing that distinguishes my successful compositions from others. My best writing is that of which makes me feel something. It doesn’t always have to be emotional, but often the case this is the most effective. In a political persuasion class that I am currently taking, we study the most effective and powerful ways of communicating one’s point. One of the most highlighted methods is appealing to emotions. This seems basic initially, yet extraordinarily difficult in practice. When I feel something in my writing, I am able to understand the purpose in a way that is not possible with writing that is a collection of bland thoughts. This feeling, does not necessarily always include the typical emotions of anger, sadness, happiness etc., although it often might. It can also invoke inquisitiveness, curiosity, and passion. This may be confusing, and is difficult for me to convey, but writing in my opinion that makes me feel something and consequently leaves me thinking about it, and craving more information in my opinion is the “best writing.”

    This feeling will vary from person to person, which is most likely the main reason that you and many others struggle so greatly to define the concept.

  2. I wish I could tell you what it feels like to author something earth-shattering. I, however, am a writer who is firmly grounded to the earth, lacking the force required to break it. My writing usually consists of dull babbling regarding bland topics. That’s why I’m excited for our current project: I get to return to the fun writing of high school.

    As a writer of boring literature and a true iconic leader of the genre, I do experience some revelations over my work. Take, for example, my history essay that was due yesterday. Written betwix the hours of 12am and 7am, there were a few golden moments that really stand out in mind as successful that really made the paper. I knew that these moments were stand-out not because I thought the points I was trying to argue were seamlessly executed, but simply because something clicked with them that gave me a good overall feeling about the essay. So, as a novice writer frequently confined to boring prompts, I would say that you know you wrote something good not by specific, technical features of the paper, but from the gut instinct the paper gives you.

  3. Your post reminded me of this quote: “Some critics will write ‘Maya Angelou is a natural writer’ – which is right after being a natural heart surgeon.”- Maya Angelou

    So you’re in good company. Most writers, even fantastic writers, struggle with their writing and struggle with whether or not it is good. I think in almost all things but especially with creative things, people are haunted by the fear that they are not as good as they think they are. So how do you know? Does anyone ever really know? In cast interviews for hit movies, they always say that the cast, the crew, everyone knew they had something “special.” Did they feel that way about other less-special projects?

    Is part of being a writer, developing that innate sense of knowing when you’re writing is rubbish? Have you ever gone back to a paper you thought was wonderful, got an A++ and scratch and sniff sticker, read it and thought “What was I/my teacher thinking?” As someone, who has, I was torn between the urge to angst over my past abilities and impressed by my growth.

    All and all, writers have to satisfy themselves first and then be willing to open up their work, accept feedback and make changes; that’s what peer review is all about. I’m not sure you can ever really know how your writing will be received, but peer review is always a good place to start. And I’m right there with you, being highly protective of my work, it’s hard to put something out there that you have so much investment in for someone else to just say “meh.” Getting the courage to share my work is something that I’ve worked on a lot in college. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

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